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Psst! How much do you make?


One of my favorite features in a journalism trade magazine I read is its annual salary survey. There’s something appealing about the idea of getting a glimpse into the pay scale of an entire industry — and, of course, seeing where I stand compared to my peers. (It’s also a good way to fend off concerns from well-intentioned people like my parents who fear that I will one day, while happily employed, have to live in a cardboard box on the street.)

I hope that you feel the same way about our salary survey (sans cardboard box, of course). Like you, I’ve scoured other publications and sources of data throughout this field and have yet to come across salary information this comprehensive about scientists involved in integrated biology. Thanks to your help — and nearly 1,200 other readers who responded to our survey — we’ve collected some terrific data to portray not only what salaries are like, but also the kinds of benefits you get, how many of you receive bonuses, what’s happening in the layoff scene, and all sorts of other valuable information that gives a telling snapshot of the field.

We’re also delighted that this is our second salary survey, which means we have a host of historical data to use as a comparison to our new results. On the bright side, a slightly smaller proportion of respondents this year report being laid off, and more people say their last employer is still in business compared to our ’03 results.

This year, I’m happy to report, we made some changes in the survey itself. You may recall from last year that we provided salary data for people in sales and marketing — but we recognize that the people you really want to hear about are scientists like yourself. So this year we lopped off any parts of the survey that had been targeted at marketing or sales folks and used the extra space to ask about more pertinent topics for you, such as tenure status and patent issues.

Once you’ve pored over the salary data, I recommend you take a gander at our story on grid computing. For a long time now, grids have been a fascinating concept — but not really something relevant to your research today. To that end, Senior Editor John MacNeil hunted down examples of projects underway right now. They’re not what the idealists consider grids, but they’re a step in the right direction, and they’re poised to have an impact on your work much sooner. As you’ll see from John’s description of the state of these grid prototypes, though, most bioinformatics researchers may be better off for the next few years with more traditional compute infrastructure. Like a new version of Windows, you’ll probably want to wait till the kinks are ironed out before jumping in.

Last but not least, don’t forget to check out Blunt End this month. Readers offered some great suggestions for our question of the month, telling us what skills they thought would be most important for systems biology scientists in the coming years.

Meredith W. Salisbury, Editor

What do you think of Genome Technology? Let me know how we’re doing by e-mailing me at [email protected] or by calling me at +1.212.651.5635.


Don’t miss what’s coming up in our July/August issue:

Biomarker-based diagnostics: There are plenty of types of biomarkers to choose from — SNPs, DNA methylation state, levels of gene or protein expression — so where should your research focus? We take a look at this increasingly controversial debate and boil it down to the basics.

Homeland security: The big bucks seem to be in biodefense and other homeland security coffers. How do you get your share? We’ll introduce you to head honchos in key government agencies, as well as to people who can offer tips from their own success in winning these kinds of grants.

Pattern recognition: Our survey page will offer valuable information from researchers involved in sequencing on, among other things, where they see the field heading.


The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.